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In re Child of Megan D.

Supreme Court of Maine

April 9, 2019

IN RE CHILD OF MEGAN D.

          Submitted On Briefs: February 20, 2019

          Christopher J. Whalley, Esq., Ellsworth, for appellant mother

          Janet T. Mills, Attorney General, and Meghan Szylvian, Asst. Atty. Gen., Office of the Attorney General, Augusta, for appellee Department of Health and Human Services

          Panel: ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM and HUMPHREY, JJ.

          PER CURIAM.

         [¶1] Megan D. appeals from a judgment of the District Court (Ellsworth, Roberts, J.) terminating her parental rights to her child pursuant to 22 M.R.S. §4055(1)(B)(2)(a), (b)(i)-(ii) (2018).[1] We affirm the judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] The Department of Health and Human Services filed a child protection petition on September 23, 2016, see 22 M.R.S. § 4032 (2018), and the court [Mallonee, /.) issued a preliminary protection order the same day, placing the child in foster care, see 22 M.R.S. §§ 4034, 4036 (2018). The mother waived her right to a summary preliminary hearing, see 22 M.R.S. § 4034(4), and on February 28, 2017, the court [Roberts, /.) entered a jeopardy order by agreement, see 22 M.R.S. § 4035 (2018). The Department filed a petition for termination of the mother's parental rights on February 1, 2018. See 22 M.R.S. § 4052 (2018). On July 24, 2018, the court held a hearing on the Department's petition for termination of the mother's parental rights. See 22 M.R.S. § 4054 (2018).

         [¶3] On August 20, 2018, the court granted the Department's petition to terminate the mother's parental rights. See 22 M.R.S. § 4O55(1)(B)(2)(a), (b)(i)-(ii). Based on the testimony presented at the hearing and other competent evidence in the record, the court found, by clear and convincing evidence, that the mother is unwilling or unable to protect the child from jeopardy or take responsibility for the child within a time that is reasonably calculated to meet the child's needs, and that termination of her parental rights is in the best interest of the child. See id.

         [¶4] The court based its decision on the following factual findings, which are supported by competent evidence in the record.

[The mother] gave birth to [the child] on September 1, 2016. [She] used heroin during her pregnancy resulting in [the child] being born drug affected. [The mother] was given the opportunity to enter a residential treatment program following [the child's] birth. Unfortunately, she soon left the program and [the child] was taken into foster care on September 23, 2016. [The child] has not been in [the mother's] care since that date.
. . . [The mother] has not been in contact with the [D]epartment consistently; she has not been calling in to see if she needs to drug test, and she does not have safe or permanent housing.
[The mother] participated in therapy... from February of 2017 until December 18, 2017. She was diagnosed with [o]piate dependency in early remission. [She] was just beginning to address her trauma history when the services stopped due to [the service provider] mistakenly believing that the Department's authorization had ceased
. . . [The mother] has made substantial connections within the recovery community to support her efforts. [Several of those connections] are working with [the mother] to assist her in finding employment and preparing for transition to her own housing. While her prospects are good at this point she ...

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